Atheism / Kookiness · April 10, 2006

Foolish prank

I received this email today from Beyond Belief Media:

Dear Mark,

We thought you might be interested in a provocative new campaign being launched by Beyond Belief Media tomorrow. You can find out about it here:

The first 666 participants will win a free DVD.

Best Regards,
Beyond Belief Media

From the Beyond Belief press release on the War on Easter:

Using its documentary THE GOD WHO WASN’T THERE as the chief weapon, Beyond Belief Media is covertly planting DVDs of the film in churches throughout the United States.

A total of 666 DVDs will be hidden like “Easter eggs” in sanctuaries, churchyards and other holy areas by Beyond Belief Media’s national team of volunteers. The DVDs will be slipped into hymnals and other locations where they are likely to be discovered by unsuspecting worshippers.

Some DVDs of THE GOD WHO WASN’T THERE will be planted by undercover operatives among actual Easter eggs at churches holding egg hunts on Easter Sunday.

“Our nonviolent campaign sends the message that nowhere in the country is safe from the truth. Wherever Christian leaders are indoctrinating children with 2000-year-old fairy tales, the truth may just find its way there.

This is NOT a good idea. No one could rationally believe that such actions will actually cause a religious person to change their minds about their beliefs. A Christian won’t suddenly say, “Oh! I was wrong! This DVD hidden in the church bathroom made me ‘see the light’!”

I haven’t seen this DVD, although I’ve heard that it is okay. Hiding it to be found in an Easter egg hunt is dishonest and counter-productive. If you want the church to view your DVD, then send them a copy, gratis. Most churches have a lending library – and many would be glad to receive a DVD that they believe could be debunked. The seeds of rationality might take root in a few receptive minds during the process of ‘debunking’ such a DVD.

What is the real purpose of hiding this DVD in churches if doing so won’t change any minds? The press release says that, “… nowhere in the country is safe ….” This is the key that this stunt is no more than an elaborate practical joke – and not a very clever or elegant practical joke. It is a prank of the worst kind; one that divides people and makes one person or group feel good at the expense of others.

Manipulative religious leaders are trying to whip their followers into a frenzy by pointing out a secularly backed ‘culture war’ – and they will love anything that proves them right, no matter how ridiculous. This kind of paranoia is like a water pump. Without something to push against, it goes into overdrive and soon burns out. Giving the paranoid Christians a ‘war’ – no matter how tongue in cheek – gives them an opponent that will only inflame their passion.

This prank will stop dialogue between the religious and the secular, and will encourage Fundamentalists to armor themselves against rationality.